Somewhat OT - list of common CAD file formats

Hi all,

I’m compiling a quick list of common CAD file formats that architectural modelmakers might encounter - for my apprentice CAD class (starts Tuesday). Here’s what I have so far just off the top of my head, if anyone has any additions, comments or corrections, they would be welcome.

It’s pretty general, mostly interested in showing what kind of information each format can contain.

TIA! --Mitch

Hi @Helvetosaur
For arch. modelmakers, I think adding ArchiCAD (.pln, I think) and Revit (.rvt, I think) would be in place. There’s many more, but both are pretty common.

HTH, Jakob

Hi Jakob,

Yes, I considered those… Most modelmakers I know of do not actually work with either of those software packages (the architects do), and not much that most modelmakers use here can import either of those native formats. But for the sake of completeness I can add them back in - at least so they can know what format files they will need to send back to the architect in exchange for a format they can open… :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

(there’s also Microstation .dgn that I run into from time to time (that Rhino can actually import, but it’s usually a disaster area)

Hi @Helvetosaur
Well, that was exactly my thinking! If 20+ years in industrial design and architecture has taught me anything, it is that there a disturbing amount of CAD users out there, who couldn’t care less about translating files for other users up- or down stream. I still encounter Solidworks users unable to export parts or assemblies as *.stp - they simply don’t know how :flushed: Oh, and maybe add *.icf as well? I’ve been seeing that pop up more and more, as BIM models are becoming the standard in AEC.

Yep, sooner or later modelmakers will need to learn to handle all that… for now I’m just trying to get them to understand the basics of “conventional” 2D and 3D… We only have three 4-day block courses spread out over a year and a half. Still, far better than before when there was… nothing.

3D PDF files also exist though they don’t seem to be common.

See note #6 in my screenshot…

I also need to add hatches as an object type to dwg, dxf and 3dm

I missed note #6. One use of 3D PDFs is to distribute a design for review to folks who don’t have 3D CAD access. A 3D PDF can be viewed on any computer with the free Acrobat Reader loaded.

I don’t know if the work does include any topography or laserscans in general.
In that case maybe include .xyz (point cloud) and .tiff (as in geotiff)?
I have encountered these when I was trying to translate topography into rhino/gh for the purpose of creating physical models from digital elevations. I am not at all highly competent with GIS/geodata but it proved helpful to at least understand what a provided file would contain and whether I would be able to process it even, especially when purchasing data or communicating with others.

I have text formats at the bottom of the list above - all of them are basically individual point files (+color optional) except maybe ASCII Grid, which is only the Z elevations in a georeferenced square cell, rectangular grid format.

As far as GeoTiff are concerned, that is perhaps getting a bit far afield for this quick list, but thanks for the idea.

maybe also good to mention that some formats don’t carry any unit info, like stl

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